DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

DEATHDREAM (DEAD OF NIGHT) (THE VETERAN) (director: Bob Clark; screenwriter: Alan Ormsby; cinematographer: Jack McGowan; editor:  Ronald Sincair; music:  Carl Zittier; cast: Richard Backus (Andy Brooks), John Marley (Charles Brooks), Lynn Carlin (Christine Brooks), Anya Ormsby (Cathy Brooks), Henderson Forsythe (Doc Phillip Allman), Jane Daly (Joanne), Arthur Anderson (Postman), (George, Army Captain), Michael Mazes (Bob), David Gawlikowski (Trucker, Howie); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Bob Clark/Peter James/John Trent; Blue Underground; 1972-Canada/UK)

"One of the first and best films to confront the ill-effects the Vietnam War had on the home front."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Bob Clark ("Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things"/"Murder by Decree"/"Black Christmas") does a good job directing this eerie zombie chiller, that has an excellent script by Alan Ormsby.

It chronicles the story of a Vietnam War private, Andy Brooks (Richard Backus), who was reported killed at war but turns up the next night at his family house in the suburban small-town of Brooksville as a zombie seeking retribution from those who sent him to war. The chillingly quiet Andy rejects all those offering him love and brutally kills a trucker (David Gawlikowski), whom he hitched a ride home with, and then his friendly family doctor (Henderson Forsythe), who suspects he was the killer. The zombie needs fresh meat to survive, and views those around him as prey. When Andy's guilt-stricken father (John Marley) fails to turn in his son even when knowing he's not mentally there and that he killed their family doctor and strangled their beloved pet dog, the crushed dad will commit suicide for that lapse in judgment in failing to prevent the subsequent drive-in murder of his daughter's (Anya Ormsby) boyfriend Bob (Michael Mazes) and his son's old flame Joanne (Jane Daly).

One of the first and best films to confront the ill-effects the Vietnam War had on the home front. Also, this was the initial Hollywood makeup gig for former Vietnam vet Tom Savini, who went on to become a legend in his field for his horror pic makeup effects. Deathdream is still in favor as a deservedly well-received gory cult film, that keeps a zombie flick as real as possible. The acting honors go to Marley for a formidable performance as the crushed father who can't understand what happened to his son, and how both he and his wife failed in their responsibilities to raise a son.

REVIEWED ON 7/9/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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